Top 3 Features Every Electronic Permit-to-Work Should Have

As more and more businesses look to move from paper permitting to a digital safe system of work, it can be overwhelming to evaluate the different tools and software on the market. Particularly if you’ve been using a paper-based system, it can be hard to imagine how the capabilities of an electronic permit-to-work (ePTW) will affect the way you and your team work together.

Shopping for a new electronic permit to work solution? Avoid buyer’s remorse and make sure it has these top three features before you evaluate anything else:

Feature 1: Next-level mobile capabilities.

Mobile is on everyone’s mind nowadays. But not all mobile solutions are created alike. While some offer native apps and others offer tablet/laptop compatible software, what really matters is its offline capabilities. You got that right – being on a tablet or smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean offline. And that’s an important distinction. Because your maintenance tech may be out in the field with his or her mobile device – but if he or she can’t perform risk assessments, plan or approve work permits, verify isolations or otherwise enter information offline, they won’t get very far.

The ability to work offline greatly increases efficiency, since performing these activities at the job site (where internet access may be hard to come by) is usually a safety requirement for any organization.

The other important thing to look for in mobile ePTW is scalability and integration. Can the app grow with you, as your organization decides to add more users, or bring more sites online? And does it integrate with the rest of your asset management journey?

Business leaders today understand that permitting, isolations, and safe work practices are an integral part of a wider enterprise asset management strategy – and therefore, any mobile permitting app should be integrated with a scalable asset management platform that touches every aspect of the journey, from resource planning to analytics and everything in between.

Feature 2: Standardization that goes above and beyond.

Every digital permitting solution worth its salt will boast some sort of template or standard certificate capability. Templates – obviously – make work quick and more efficient, while reducing human error. Digital templates are easy to keep up-to-date and can be updated across an entire global company in real-time.

But in addition to responsive and intelligent templating, you may also be interested in a solution that has clever way to package templates – since the biggest workloads are major projects such as shutdowns/turnarounds/outages. The shutdown package must include isolation packages and the linkages to all the permits and certificates associated with the shutdown. The ability to do this will not only save your team hundreds of hours of planning time; it will also help with the consistency and quality of your shutdown plan, making it easier to adhere to best practices and lessons learned from previous shutdowns.

Speaking of previous shutdowns, to enjoy further time-savings and unfailing consistency, you need the ability to create shutdown packages from past shutdowns – why reinvent the wheel?

Woodside Energy credits templating with reducing their shutdown planning from months to minutes. Read the case study here.

Feature 3: A solid, ever-expanding, organization-wide knowledge base.

You need more than just a content library in your new ePTW. You’re looking for a sophisticated system that controls many of the dynamic actions throughout the permitting processes and acts as a risk assessment library to bring consistency and best practices to everyone who performs permitting and isolations tasks at your organization.

With ePAS, Prometheus Group introduces the future of Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA). The HIRA is an in intelligent library of work categories and groups (e.g. hot work, confined space, heights, tools, etc.), hazards and controls that are related to one another. Upon implementation, it is already rife with best practices specific to your company and industry. Better still, the HIRA grows with your organization; select personnel can add to the HIRA as new processes are implemented or new hazards, controls, and work categories are created.

The HIRA helps permit writers evaluate the type of risk present and creates consistency with risk evaluation; as a result, more hazards and controls are identified. It drastically reduces human error, because personnel can leverage the collective knowledge base rather than having to rely solely on their own knowledge; this helps to support and train less experienced personnel in creating high quality risk assessments. The HIRA will also pre-populate some fields, based on the user’s selections. For example, when a scope explanation is created, this will pre-populate hazards, and the hazards will prep-populate the necessary controls. This dynamically populates the permit, drives approvals, and other safe work documents required. Of course, you can configure the controls to suit your business processes.

But the HIRA is just one way Prometheus Group’s ePAS digital safe system of work enables continuous improvement. It also facilitates ongoing, organization-wide learning with several features such as: templates, hazards against plan items, lessons learned, hazard conflict warning matrix, and an audit tool.

Make sure your digital permit-to-work solution has the features you need

When evaluating ePTWs, start by checking off “the big three” before examining the more granular features in detail. Your ePTW should be designed to incorporate industry best practices and automate certain elements of the permitting and isolations processes to save your team time and to reduce human error. Most importantly, even if you don’t need a mobile solution now, it’s vital that the ePTW you select has the ability to go mobile, to scale with your business, and to integrate with the rest of your asset management strategy. Choosing this will help future-proof your decision and ensure that your ePTW is ready to grow with you.

Author: Justin Fox

Functional Consulting Manager at Prometheus Group

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